A New Found Love for Filipino Food: Glenn's Story

When I first met Glenn, our mutual friends Jen & David raved about his skills in the kitchen so I knew I had to schedule some time for him to teach me a recipe or two.  I checked out some pictures from some past parties he's cooked for and was so impressed with the presentation that it came as a surprise to me that he was not a professional chef.  

Prep time at my place 

Prep time at my place 

The dish we decided that he would teach me to make was actually a childhood favorite of mine - Kinilaw!  What is kinilaw you may be wondering?  Well,  it's the filipino version of ceviche.  It's AMAZING - I think I could eat a full plate of it for breakfast, lunch and dinner - no joke.  So obviously, I was pumped.  

When I received my shopping list from Glenn though, I was a little perplexed by the shopping list since he gave me since some of things were not your typical ingredients for this dish like ancho chiles and smoked skipjack.  WTF?  But whatever, he's the expert not me, so I went about hunting around SF & Daly City for everything.  

When Glenn arrived at my apartment, I asked him what was up with the weird ingredients, it prompted him to tell me his story about how he found his renewed love for Filipino food. Basically, in the past, he thought it wasn't very good and didn't have a lot of nice things to say about it.   As a fellow Filipina, I was pretty surprised that Glenn wasn't always a fan of our culture's cuisine because I am so obsessed.  Adobo? Pancit? Garlic Fried Rice? Kinilaw? YES PLEASE!

However, he was lucky enough to have his friend Thuy (who's a professional chef herself) persuade him to give Filipino food another shot and cook with Amy Besa, owner of Purple Yam Restaurant in NYC, when she taught a class in San Francisco.  After cooking with Amy, he learned how to make Filipino food that he loved, his way.  His biggest take away from that experience was what it meant to make "authentic" cuisine: 

Sometimes I hear people have spirited discussions about what is and is not authentic in food. For example, they’ll say that a Chinese restaurant has authentic Chinese food, or they’ll say that the food isn’t authentic. Or it could be about Italian food. Or Mexican. Or anything.

To me, authenticity isn’t quite so binary. If we’re really restrictive about it - things have to be cooked this one way - there’s no growth, no creativity, no individuality, no diversity. On the other hand, I think it’s important to understand and respect the history of something as you create. You can put yourself into a dish, you can be original, but nothing happens in a vacuum.
— Glenn Fajardo

Check out part 1 of Glenn's series, where he shares his story on how he fell back in love with his culture's cuisine in the video below:    

Come back next week to learn how to actually make his version of this dish!